As Gordon rightly points out in his last post (see 'here'), I've been nagging him to write something about the mercurial talent that is Momus for some time now. The fact that he chose Sunday night to do so has also been serendipitous, as this week I wanted to write something myself about an artist who is a former collaborator of Momus, the equally capricious, Anne Laplantine (pictured).
Anne Laplantine, who in the past has also gone by the names of Michiko Kusaki and Angelika Koehlermann, is an experimental French musician and video artist. She currently lives and works in Paris. Momus fans will remember her for the collaboration Summerisle, which was released in 2004. This garnered mixed reviews at the time and is famously considered a 'difficult' listen due to Laplantine's idiosyncratic musical accompaniment to Momus's restrained, almost whispered, vocals. Overall, the music is an experimental/ambient/folktronica melange. Here's a sample track below coupled with an interesting and successful experimental video collage composed of mainstream pop footage reduced to an abstract movement of shape, light and colour (the video artist's page can be visited 'here').
A free MP3 of the track is available 'here'.
Interestingly, the Summerisle album is a concept piece partly based on Robin Hardy's classic, British, horror movie The Wicker Man, a film that both Gordon and I consider to be amongst the greatest ever made.
After the release of Sumerisle, Laplantine got married, moved to Paris, and quit music to concentrate on playing the ancient, Chinese game of strategy, Go. During this time, Laplantine reportedly played the game obsessively, to the exclusion of almost all else. She only returned to making art three years later in response to the infamous Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007. At that time, Laplantine produced a series of art videos, since removed from Youtube, which explored acts of violence, particularly as they occur in Western society. These videos were often misunderstood and attracted a storm of criticism, with internet trolls having a field day.
Since then, Laplantine has re-surfaced with a new Youtube page where you can see her most recent quirky, experimental, short films. She also has a great, interactive and unpredictable site devoted to her various art forms, which is worth a trawl around (see 'here'). More recently, Laplantine has taken to releasing her latest experimental, electronic compositions on soundcloud. All of this work can be freely downloaded, but will only appeal to the more musically adventurous amongst you. Here's a sample track:
Ah by anne laplantine
As you will learn, once you become familiar with her work, Laplantine's music is not bound by convention. Instead, she allows herself free rein to create her delicate and fragile sound-forms in an organic fashion. To finish, I'm embedding another piece of video art, which I think really recognises this aspect of her work and creates a charming visual that combines very succesfully with the music.